Cherthala native Jino Varkey eases Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Goa; aims for world championship

32-year-old Jino Varkey secured 11th position in his age category at the Ironman 70.3 Goa triathlon event held recently. Photo: Special Arrangement

It's only been three years since 32-year-old Jino Varkey started focusing on the endurance race triathlon, that's spread over the disciplines of swimming, cycling and running. Yet, in his first ever Ironman 70.3 challenge, the Cherthala native finished it in an impressive 6.03 hours, securing 11th position in his age category. The event, held in Goa saw the participation of around 720 athletes from India and outside. A Pala-based architect, Jino, who is also part of the Kottayam Keg Bikers cycling club, says: “I have been waiting to take part in the event since 2020. The pandemic and injuries delayed realising it. I'm glad I could be part of it this year.”

Jino heads for the swimming segment of the Ironman 70.3 competition in Goa. Photo: Special Arrangement

An Ironman 70.3 miles race, often dubbed 'half Ironman,' is the shorter version of the full Ironman triathlon race that's 140.6 miles. The participant has to finish 1.9 km swimming, 90 km cycling and 21 km running within eight hours and 30 minutes. The Goa race was an open competition, inviting individuals from various walks of life to take up the challenge.

Jino wasn't a triathlete, to begin with. “At school and college, I was a kabaddi player and competed at the state- and national-level events. However, I had a ligament tear injury at one point and doctors advised me to focus on self-supported sports like running, then on. I was into swimming from childhood and slowly took up cycling and running as well, later. That's how I got interested in triathlon which combines all these disciplines.”

While most half-Ironman participants dream of taking part in the full Ironman competitions, Jino has different plans. “I want to improve my timing and qualify for the world Ironman championship,” says Jino, who is self-trained in the sport. “The challenge is that Kerala hardly has any training facility for the sport. Being in Pala, I could make use of the swimming pool in St.Thomas College, the roads around that aren't too busy and the like to train and make the most of these facilities, that's all. This is also an expensive sport to be engaged in,” says the triathlete.

Regardless, what keeps him motivated to squeeze in the intensive training for it alongside pursuing a career? “It's just my love and passion for the sport that keeps me going. My family and my club are also quite supportive. My plan is to get a better cycle for the next Ironman 70.3 race, and practice better, which would improve my timing,” he says, signing off.  

A Pala-based architect, Jino Varkey is also part of the Kottayam Keg Bikers cycling club. Photo: Special Arrangement
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